This update will relate only to information about the COVID-19 Corona virus. Please refer to my first update for general guidance and information.
A number of significant actions happened yesterday: the President declared a National Emergency, Vermont’s Governor Phil Scott declared a State of Emergency, the Vermont Legislature adjourned until March 24th in order to empty and deep clean the Statehouse and the Vermont Judiciary took actions to assist in social distancing (the amount of space between people when they are in public). I’ll explain more on each of these items plus provide information that I have gathered from a few local businesses and service organization.
Three new cases in Vermont
On March 14, 2020, health officials announced a case of novel coronavirus in Windsor County and one in Washington County. Another case announced concerns a Westchester, New York resident, being treated at Springfield Hospital. These cases are considered presumptive positive, pending confirmation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Read more.
Cases announced previously were in Chittenden County and Bennington County.
Places to monitor for information – this is where state and local government is getting information to make decisions.
- Vermont Department of Health 2019 Novel Coronavirus Current Status in Vermont Webpage for updates.
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control Coronavirus Disease page
- World Health Organization Coronavirus Disease 2019 page
More about Federal and State emergency declarations
Vermont Declaration of State of Emergency in Response to COVID-19 and National Guard Call-Out and Governor Phil Scott Executive order
Here is good information about what happens when there is a Federal State of Emergency or a State Emergency declared. This resource comes from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials which is the national nonprofit organization representing public health agencies in the United States, the U.S. Territories, and the District of Columbia, and over 100,000 public health professionals these agencies employ.
From Vermont’s Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson
From the Vermont Secretary of State:
Holding Virtual Selectboard and Schoolboard meetings
Current open meeting law permits select board members, and other members of public bodies, to fully participate in meetings from a remote location, provided that certain requirements are met. Any member who participates remotely via electronic or other means must be able to hear and be heard throughout the meeting. This means that participating by speakerphone or Skype, for example, can be appropriate, while participation by email is not. Each member who participates remotely must identify himself or herself when the meeting is convened. Any vote that is not unanimous must be taken by roll call.
If a quorum or more of members will be participating remotely, the Open Meeting Law requires that the meeting agenda designate at least one physical location where a member of the public can attend and participate in the meeting. At least one member of the body, staff member, or other designee must be physically present at the location.
The above requirements do presume that a physical location will always be provided for members of the public to attend, participate, and express their opinions on matters being considered at public meetings. These requirements do not preclude, however, the ability of a public body to provide an additional means for members of the public to participate from a remote location, if members of the public so choose. Tools such as Zoom, Skype, or GoToMeeting can be used to maximize public participation and to provide community members who cannot physically attend with a way to make their voices heard.
The Secretary of State’s Office does not have any authority to amend or waive any portion of the Open Meeting Law. We do suggest that public bodies consider offering and encouraging use of electronic conferencing tools as an alternative, though not exclusive, means of citizen participation in public meetings.
Why are the schools still open?
Current Vermont guidance is not to close Vermont schools. Children who are not otherwise immunity compromised seem to be at lower risk for catching the virus. I have been told by the administration that in other places that have seen a widespread outbreak there is a time when closing the schools is optimal and Vermont has not yet reached that time.
I understand some folks want to see the schools closed. And at some point, they may be. For now, the Governor’s Executive order asks that “no school superintendent or schoolboard shall cause a student or parent to be penalized for student absences that are the result of following medical advice or the guidance of VDH or arising from the concerns of parents or guardians relating to COVID-19”
In addition here are some online education resources from Jacki Murano for teachers and students that are self isolating.
Vermont Guard and US Military guidance
Letter to Vermont Guard from Adjutant General Greg Knight as a result of Governor Scott’s May 13th Executive Order
Statement by the Department of Defense on Domestic Travel Restrictions for members of the military
Today, the Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist approved new travel restrictions for service members, DoD civilians, and their families assigned to DoD installations, facilities and surrounding areas within the United States and its territories. This restriction will halt all domestic travel, including Permanent Change of Station, and Temporary Duty. This restriction will also pause civilian hiring at DoD installations and components for persons who do not reside within the hiring entity’s local commuting area.
Additionally, service members will be authorized local leave only, following Service guidelines. This new guidance is effective March 16 and continues through May 11. read more
Info for our weekend residents and second homeowners
Vermont’s weekend residents and second homeowners are also often deeply committed friends, neighbors and customers in our resort communities. And taxpayers in our towns and state.
Before you decide to come to your home in Vermont at this time, please consider that our rural community’s resources could feel a strain from meeting resident Vermonters needs if there is a wider outbreak and if there are ways you might help alleviate some of that strain.
If you come:
- Vermonters are being asked to call before going to the emergency room or doctor’s office. Please see this excellent advice and decision matrix from the Southwestern Vermont Medical Center for all persons needing any medical attention at this time.
- Recreational and non-essential gatherings of 250 people or more are cancelled until April 15th by Executive Order of Vermont’s Governor
- Mount Snow has cancelled all upcoming events and musical performances, and Vail has issued guidance on refunds. Mass MOCA has closed, the Valley View Saloon has closed until further notice.
- Some of our establishments are offering takeout or delivery services, and we encourage you to patronize those services.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, or if you need assistance navigating government services at (802) 384-0233 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Laura Sibilia
Dover, Readsboro, Searsburg, Somerset, Stamford, Wardsboro, Whitingham